Bogota Mayor Petro Removed From Office by Inspector General

Bogota’s Mayor Gustavo Petro was removed from office and banned from public office for 15 years following the mismanagement of garbage collection in Colombia’s capital, Colombia’s Inspector General said. Demonstrators filled Bogota’s main plaza to protest the decision.

Petro’s handling of a contract for trash collection last year violated rules of free commerce and put the health of Bogota’s inhabitants at risk, Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez said in a statement broadcast on local TV news. Petro can contest the decision.

Petro assigned the contract to “two entities with no experience, knowledge or capacity,” Ordonez’s office said in a statement on its website. His decision “provoked a crisis and chaos” in Bogota in December 2012. Uncollected rubbish in the streets provoked a “grave emergency” for the city, the ruling said.

The former member of the M-19 guerrilla group, who was elected mayor in October 2011, described the ruling in a post on Twitter as a “coup d’etat against the progressive government in the city” and called for a demonstration in downtown Bogota. As an opposition senator during the second term of President Alvaro Uribe from 2006 to 2010, Petro led investigations into links between lawmakers and illegal armed groups in the so-called “parapolitica” scandal.

EBT Shares

Ordonez’ office last month banned Gerardo Hernandez, head of Colombia’s financial regulator, from office for 12 years following an investigation into last yr’s collapse of Interbolsa, nation’s biggest brokerage. In 2010, Ordonez banned opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba from holding public office for 18 years for allegedly collaborating with Marxist rebels.

Shares in Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota SA, the phone company serving Colombia’s capital, rose as much as 10.4 percent, the most since 2009. The city owns a majority stake in the company.

“There is clearly anticipation that Petro’s removal may reignite the discussion of a strategic partner for ETB,” Rupert Stebbings, equity markets vice president at Bancolombia, said in an e-mail. “Petro likely has the ability to appeal and there is no clarity as to who would replace” him, Stebbings said.

ETB shares more than doubled during 2009 after the company said it was searching for a strategic partner. The shares posted annual drops every year since after it failed to find a buyer and amid political opposition to the plan.

The stock, which reached a high of 1,280 pesos in Sept. 2009, rose 6.6 percent to 420 pesos today.

Petro’s office and the press office of ETB didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the government will respect the Inspector General’s decision.

Previous Mayor Samuel Moreno was suspended from office 2011 in connection with a graft probe involving alleged kickbacks from government contractors.

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